moogly pwns the iPhone!?!

I got a chance last night to play with my friend Beth Matuszek’s iPhone, while she played with my G1. I’ve been blogging that I think the G1 is serious competition for the iPhone, but I must say I expected the iPhone to look better than the G1 when Beth and I did side-to-side testing of parallel functions, like browsing the Instapundit blog page.

It doesn’t. In theory the G1 and iPhone have the same resolution, but the cruel truth is that the G1’s display is superior – stronger luminance contrasts, better colors, generally crisper. It’s not a subtle difference, it really jumped out at both of us.

That’s not the shocking part, though. Beth has a first-generation iPhone that’s about a year old; some of the above differences might be simple phosphor decay. The shocking part is that Android does font rasterization and anti-aliasing better. The difference is really noticeable on small fonts; compared to the G1 the iPhone has an obtrusive case of jaggies. Hello? Hello? Apple? You’re supposed to be the world-beaters at this sort of thing; what have you been smoking lately?

UPDATE: Mystery partly and perhaps entirely solved. The physical sizes of the G1 and iPhone display are different. The iPhone’s is substantially larger, which means it has lower DPI. At the same font size in millimeters, therefore, the edges of a font glyph on the iPhone are doomed to look grainier unless the antialiasing is really dramatically better — which apparently it isn’t.

40 thoughts on “moogly pwns the iPhone!?!

  1. I, too, am surprised. Though the font rendering situation is much improved under Linux, with the Xft layer providing font smoothing that makes Windows look hagard and shameful in comparison, the Mac still pwns all when it comes to font display. If the iPhone screen looks like ass, that’s an unusual and unfortunate condition for Apple.

    When news of this reaches Cupertino, Steve will yell and heads will roll, and a BIOS update will be pushed out right quick. What will be done to address the development and integration problems endemic to Android?

  2. Really? I don’t see this at all. I’ve got the second gen iPhone, and yes, doing the “reverse pinch” gesture makes text jaggy as it zooms (just scaling the frame buffer), but it renders quite nicely once it refreshes. I have yet to see a G1 in the wild, so will have to reserve judgement.

    My main beef with the iPhone is the shitty battery life. Just about everything else is nice, down to having ssh in my pocket at a restaurant once it is suitably hacked. I want to see a G1 now – I love competition.

  3. I had ssh with my sidekick years and years ago. I can’t wait until my g1 comes.

  4. Careful with the year old iPhone. As a security guy, one of the things I most regret is Geoffrey Moore’s statement that companies should “Go ugly, early.” Get to market, and fix problems later.

    Unfortunately, Moore is often right. The iPhone is learning from its early to market experience. You’re right that certain things suck on it (personaly, I can’t stand the lack of cut and paste, which seems to be because Steve Thought It Was Inelegant), but iPhone 2.0 seems a lot better than 1.0.

    Not sure about the Google phone (haven’t used one), but this is a typical Silicon Valley Blitzkreig into the market. Meaning security be damned, sieze the high ground.

    As a security guy, all I can think is “Lord save us all.” If the GooglePhone were truly open, I’d be a lot less apprehensive.

  5. Well the iPhone does run Mac OS X (source), I would’ve assumed the same font subsystem would be on both the desktop and embedded version.

  6. > When news of this reaches Cupertino, Steve will yell and heads will roll, and a BIOS update will be
    > pushed out right quick.

    Not al the world is a PeeCee.

    > My main beef with the iPhone is the shitty battery life. Just about everything else is nice, down to having ssh in my > pocket at a restaurant once it is suitably hacked

    The battery life on the iPhone is actually pretty good (it sucks that the battery is sealed inside). SSH is available for free via the iTunes application store.

    I’ll have to go look at at G1, but I doubt esr’s assertions are true in this regard.

  7. >Eric, shame you didn’t get photos.

    I considered trying to. Then concluded that Web display of them would be an ugly lose — the beat between the pixel sizes on the image and the pixel density of your display would be likely to produce serious artifacting.

  8. Eric, you just show the full size images as separate files to link to from thumbnails.

  9. “Get to market, and fix problems later. ”

    Release early, release often. Wasn’t quite intended for adoption in hardware… though it seems to work. Does anyone remember how quite ridiculous the first generation iPod was?

  10. Heh, I had an iPod 4g (the grayscale one, not Photo/Color), and it barely lasted one year before the thing died.

  11. iPhone
    480×320 3.5 in (89 mm) 163 ppi

    G1
    480×320 3.17 in (81 mm) 180 ppi

    I went and looked at a G1 at the local T-Mobile store Sunday. The hinge was broken, which doesn’t bode well.

    However, the single largest reason to wait on an Android phone is that T-Mobile’s 3G coverage sucks.

    Perhaps AT&T (who have a far superior 3G network) will eventually offer an Android phone, or perhaps the efforts to make Android work on the Neo FreeRunner will proceed just a bit further, and I can have Android (on a 480×640 73mm 285 ppi screen!), running on AT&T’s 3G network.

    In any case, the G1 appears to suck next to the other options, unless you just gotta have one now.

  12. >The hinge was broken, which doesn’t bode well.

    Yeah, it’s an obvious weak point in the design.

    >However, the single largest reason to wait on an Android phone is that T-Mobile’s 3G coverage sucks.

    For my usage pattern this isn’t a big issue. I run in 2G mode to get better battery time; about all I’d get from 3G is faster page loads on the browser.

    >In any case, the G1 appears to suck next to the other options, unless you just gotta have one now.

    Er, what other options? OpenMoko doesn’t work right, and nothing else open-source is shipping yet. Might have been nice to wait for the G2 or whatever, but my V660 was really decrepit — it’s been in ready-to-crap-out-any-minute mode for months.

  13. One of the cool things about the first iPod iteration was that the fingerwheel was an actual wheel — it turned. I know people like to minimize moving parts these days, but never underestimate their efficacy in providing tactile feedback. And things with moving parts that were made in the days when things were built to last often outlast by many years their solid-state cousins of today which fall apart after a couple of years of use. Think AT&T phones of yesteryear vs. cheap crappy phones today — even cellphones. The G1 iPod certainly feels more durable than its successors have proven to be.

  14. Hey Eric! Sorry to ask an irrelevant personal question,but just out of curiosity: Have you got any kids?

  15. >Have you got any kids?

    No biological ones, no, but a full answer would be more complicated than that. Why?

  16. I just guessed that maybe a person like you has some firm philosophical standpoints on producing bio kids.Let me rephrase that: Most of the people I know don’t have any true purpose in life.they just grow up because they have to.They marry and give birth to children because it’s the natural process of life and produce other people who again don’t know what to do and the chain goes on and on.I JUST GUESSED that your avoidance has some deep-rooted thing involved.

  17. Jim: but where are the next generation’s Unstoppable Fighting Machines going to come from?

  18. Eric, the reason that the iPhone might not have sub-pixel rendering is because it looks subtly ugly. I, for one, can see the coloured fringe around each character.

  19. >Shhhh! The bloodline that produced esr stops with esr. Don’t spur him to reproduce now.

    Jim! Its quite like a factory! :) But man We’ve got plenty of ESR-types all over the world.The factory have never come to a halt and never will : Ordinary,gun freak,a little Outspoken,a little Egocentric.He’s not unique in any form as he tries his best to sound like but at least he’s not evil.
    (Oh my! He likes Joe Satriani too!)

  20. At currently 1.25 times earth’s carrying capacity, a moratorium on reproducing is a long-warranted move for many.

    http://solutions.synearth.net/2008/11/14

    The problem that threatens to exterminate most higher forms of life on Earth — and soon — is the problem of “human behavior.” Therefore, if one is searching for “solutions,” one must look closely at what one sees in the mirror every morning. That’s the central problem on planet Earth. It lives with all of us. WE ARE THE PROBLEM.

  21. Thomas Covello, as can I. It’s distracting. As an experiment I looked at a subpixel-rendered display through 3D glasses; the charaters seemed set into the screen somewhat. :)

  22. >Eric, the reason that the iPhone might not have sub-pixel rendering is because it looks subtly ugly.

    It’s not clear the G1 has it either. The obvious visual difference may be pixel density, or it may be some unknown thing else.

  23. How come the G1 display doesn’t turn when I tilt my phone? Seriously though, I’ve seen the iPhone and the G1, and I think they’re comparable. The obvious major difference is that I can develop for my G1, and I’d rather have a phone that is hackable.

    As far as “computer revolutions” go, this has to be the biggest thing since the PC. I still have my first computer, a 386. When I got that thing I couldn’t have imagined some of the desktop technology we have now.

    I think Eric is right about things going mobile. Let me tell you that I spent a year in Japan and saw oodles of technology, but “computers” were sparse. Instead, even the toilets are tripped out with hard drives, microchips (of course), and wireless internet connectivity for things like navigation/GPS systems. (Although the latter applies more to cars than toilets. ;)

    The iPhone marks the first time American cellular technology has surpassed Japan since who knows when, but the G1 means that future embedded systems might be freely hackable. I wonder if someday I’ll look back at my G1 nostalgically as my first hybrid phone?

  24. Jim: let me get this straight. You want to raise an army of ESR-clones, and then turn them into cyborgs?

    Are you sure that’s a good idea?

  25. >How come the G1 display doesn’t turn when I tilt my phone?
    because that would be more work.

    > I can develop for my G1, and I’d rather have a phone that is hackable.
    both these things are true for the iPhone, too.

    > You want to raise an army of ESR-clones..

    yes, and they should all go to sword camp.

    > What is the full answer?

    42

  26. >ESR, now I am curious. What is the full answer?

    Sorry, it would involve publicly disclosing some confidentialities of other people.

  27. Sorry, it would involve publicly disclosing some confidentialities of other people.

    The Mandalorian code of honor forbids implicating the Kaminoans or their Republic sponsors, eh?

  28. >> I can develop for my G1, and I’d rather have a phone that is hackable.
    >both these things are true for the iPhone, too.

    Um… right. I knew that. I was just testing you. ;)

  29. Well, the “Developer” units of the G1 are out, which is completely hacker-friendly. Contrary to the name, it seems that you don’t need to really apply to get one: so long as you have the money to pay for it. Although at $400, it seems to lose the price appeal compared to iPhone — which itself is $200 now. Of course it’s a little unfair given that the service charges cost much more than the phone does in the long run, but those are in constant flux and it’s hard to pin a total cost over 1 year or 2 years, etc.

    At any rate, it appears Eric bought his phone a little too early, though it seems rather deceitful on Google’s part to not announce plans of releasing such a system before, or even telling that the (regular) G1 is rather restrictive.

  30. >At any rate, it appears Eric bought his phone a little too early,

    I’m not unhappy. I needed a phone, not just a development target.

  31. > I’m not unhappy. I needed a phone, not just a development target.

    Yet you bought your phone because it was “open source”. Engage in politics much?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>